What kind of person would hold up the Biblical Golden Rule as a model for business?
Someone who was very, very naive.
The titans of wealth back then were ferocious in their acquisition of money in ways that make today’s sociopaths look like weak sissies. Lying, cheating, stealing, double-dealing, back-stabbing, insider trading, outright fraud — and even sometimes murder — were the common tools of their trade.
“It’s just business.”
Hill, apparently foolishly believing that wealth was always a blessing from God, very unfortunately never looked any deeper into how the titans actually made their money. He really believed in the Golden Rule. He didn’t see he was living in an American Babylon.
Besides, he wanted to be like Haanel. Make money and be seen as important.
So he tried to bring to everyday people what he thought were the common — legal — factors that helped all titans gain their wealth.
Setting aside the worship of money, there’s not much wrong with what Hill advocated. Having initiative, being clever, being prepared, going the extra mile, stick-to-itiveness, and more — those are things that should be taught in every school. There are things Hill wrote about that really can be beneficial.
And that they can be — and were — beneficial to at least one person matters. Because it was businessman W. Clement Stone who retrieved Hill from obscurity — and likely another bout of poverty — and gave him not only a job with his company, but gave the world Napoleon Hill on film talking about his book. Stone vouched for what Hill wrote. (He obviously didn’t think the philosophy was complete, however; he added to it with his own books.)
The trouble arises when people believe they have followed everything Hill (and Clement) wrote about — yet still fail.
It’s entirely possible to do everything Hill and Clement (and others before and since) have said and fail.
Because that’s how real life works.
There’s a great element of luck that’s never acknowledged by anyone — least of all by the rich! I’ll go as far to say that luck is the major factor in whether or not a person — or product or idea — succeeds or fails.
But people don’t want to hear that.
Because it makes life a very scary thing to deal with. It means that even doing every thing right can be fruitless.
But I think even Napoleon Hill recognized, even if he buried it and did not overtly call attention to it, that luck was a major factor. His advice on advancing past the lower rung where one could be buried, demoralized and never occupy the vision of a significant enough stakeholder is a testament to this.
Was not aware of how tattered Mr. HIll’s personal relationships were — I suppose this is shrouded by all the positive mental attitude hullabaloo associated with his name today. Upon further reflection, I reckon it’s not at all surprising.